ABOVE: McLaren last raced — and won — at Le Mans with its F1 GTR in the 1990s.
McLaren appears to be close to pushing the button on a full top class ‘LMP1’ program for 2020 onward.
After the Automobile Club De L’Ouest’s upcoming regulations were outlined today at the Le Mans 24 Hours organizer’s annual press conference, McLaren CEO Zak Brown — who was in attendance with the company’s F1 director Eric Boullier — told RACER that the new regulations are a good fit for the British marque’s future aspirations.
At its core, the proposed regulations, which are fixed for five years, will see the yet-to-be-named top class become one for hybrid-powered prototype-based cars with styling designed to ensure highly visible relevance to the brand fielding each car.
“I think the regulations are very good,” Brown said. “We’ve been participating (in technical meetings with the ACO) when they’ve been developing them, and they took a very consultative approach with the manufacturers. I think it’s headed in the right direction.
“It is something we’re reviewing, being in the front row (of the press conference), and now that the rules are finalized — although there’s a lot of fine details still to come. We need to go back and review internally. If we were to move forward, it would be on the basis that nothing compromises our Formula 1 program, that it’s commercially viable, and that we think that we can win. On the surface it looks like we should be able to tick all those boxes, but it will take us the second half of the year to come to a conclusion.”
“There’s a lot of manufacturers around the table. I’m not sure all of them will come, but I get the sense that a handful of them will.”
McLaren, Brown said, would have to “bring in additional resources” to sustain such an ambitious new program, especially as the brand could be involved in both F1 and IndyCar during those years.
Despite there being rules in place for customer teams to lease powertrains from factories and potentially partner up in a program, Brown said it’s unlikely that a solution for the brand would involve Anglo-American prototype team United Autosports, which he co-owns.
“I never mix McLaren and United, other than I’ve had a couple of McLaren drivers in my United cars. I think it’s going to be hard to beat the manufacturers as a privateer team, but yeah you’d love to race in the top class. I try not to think of United and McLaren colliding in any way.
“I could see the Rebellions of the world loving to race against McLarens, Astons or Ferraris.”